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Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything Paperback – 2 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1st ed edition (2 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415940168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415940160
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,102,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"The collection succeeds in its expressed goal of charting some of the paths through Kircher's world."-Darin Hayton, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, "Renasissance Quarterly

About the Author

Paula Findlen is Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History and Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program at Stanford University. She is the author of Possessing Nature and coeditor of Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, published by Routledge.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Around 1678, news of the imminent demise of one of the seventeenth century's most fascinating, daring, prolific, and frustrating intellects leaked out of the Roman College, the principal educational institution of the Society of Jesus. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gy. E. Szonyi on 8 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Professor Paula Findlen's collection of essays is perhaps the most comprehensive storehouse to know about Athanasius Kircher, 17th-century polimath, "the last man who knew everything". A devoted Catholic, a passionate researcher of antiquity as well as the new sciences, Kircher was a key figure of the scientific revolution, half way between magic and science, traditionalism and innovation.

The authors of this collection are the best scholars of the field. They convey reliable and up to date information.

I recommend this for graduate students of early modern intellectual history, and for specialist historians.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Solid Edited Volume 30 April 2005
By Christopher I. Lehrich - Published on
Format: Paperback
Athanasius Kircher hasn't been studied in a terribly coherent way, in general. He was a 17th-century Jesuit who studied everything, collected everything, and at times seemed to know everything. Perhaps most famously, he formulated translations for hieroglyphic inscriptions on Egyptian monuments and such; unfortunately, without the Rosetta Stone and Champollion, he was dead wrong about nearly all of this. Nevertheless he was a fascinating figure situated at a major crossroads of Baroque intellectual culture.

The negative about this volume is the usual one: because it is an edited volume, there still isn't any coherent argument made, nor any agreement. Indeed, it seems that the authors duck and weave around a number of major issues, as though they think others in the book will take them up. But since there is so little really serious scholarship readily available, this is an important addition to the little library.

I can't really say that there are certain "shining stars" in the volume. All the essays have strengths and weaknesses; it really depends what you're interested in. That may seem like a cop-out, but if you know something about Kircher, you can see why it comes up: he was interested in everything, after all, and generally published on it as well. Consequently you might be intrested in Egypt and find several essays interesting, and then think the essays on magnetism and biological wonders and Chinese very boring indeed. But what if you care mostly about Kircher's important contributions (often via Gaspar Schott) to the study of magnetism, and care nothing about linguistics? And so on.

Fortunately, the volume is a relatively inexpensive paperback, so there's no reason not to buy it and dip in. When Daniel Stolzenberg's book comes out, we'll maybe have a solid foundation to work from as well. Now if only we could get some decent editions of Kircher's actual work in translation....
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Be careful 5 Feb 2007
By Mfunctor - Published on
Format: Paperback
I just wanted to say that almost all of the illustrations in this book are of poor technical quality. They are incredibly pixelated. The publishers might have accidentally published working images and not the full resolution ones
4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Really Interesting Person! 9 Mar 2004
By Dawn Spencer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure Otto, in the previous review, put his review under the right book. His review isn't for THIS book, that's for sure!!!
I've just completed reading "Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything" 2004 edition. It is a VERY fascinating look at a man who lived in the 1600's. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it!
Loved the book, and will recommend it!
Again, this is for the 2004, Hardcover edition.
3 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Could do better! 27 Mar 2009
By lend me your ears, and I'll poop innit! - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've read a lot about this man and was surprised to find a book about him in my local bookshop. However, I was dissapointed when I finally got down to reading the book and actually got so bored I didn't finish it!

It unfortunately reads like someone's Masters thesis. This attempt at writing is abissmal, and should never have been printed before a decent (mass-market) editor looked at it. Could have been a lot better is really all I'm saying.
6 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Athanasius comma comma down 2 Oct 2003
By otto - Published on
Format: Paperback
A non scriptural reference of southern disorders and phantasms pertaining to the jingoistic affluence of Post German and Pakastani laborers, and their economic hold on the museum quality replica industry of Midwestern South New Wales as they were studied at that time. Mastery and technique are key essential to this review of prescience and educated guesswork. We would suggest following any fifth or sixth reading with a short sabattical referendum amoung your peers and a public reading on prime time afternoon television. An absolute must if possible. If you are openminded and have a general understanding of specific ecclecticism you will love this book and it's demeanor.
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